Review: Red Moon Rising
by Jeff Foust
|The book makes for compelling reading, as Brzezinski vividly tells the story of the triumphs and struggles that went on in both countries to develop launch vehicles and satellites.|
Red Moon Rising offers few new historical revelations about the events it chronicles, and relies heavily on other published accounts and secondary sources (one exception is a series of interviews the author conducted with Sergei Khrushchev, son of Nikita.) Nonetheless, the book makes for compelling reading, as Brzezinski vividly tells the story of the triumphs and struggles that went on in both countries to develop launch vehicles and satellites. At times the book may be too vivid: a section in the first chapter includes line-for-line dialogue from a visit by Nikita Khrushchev and other Communist Party officials to Sergei Korolev’s design bureau, based only on Sergei Khrushchev’s 50-year-old recollections of the event.
Inevitably, when multiple books come out about the same topic, people will ask how they stack up against each other. While A Ball, A Dog, and A Monkey and Red Moon Rising cover the same events, they are in some respects rather different books. While A Ball, A Dog, and A Monkey tried to humanize the story by focusing on some of the bit players in the drama, Red Moon Rising sticks to the main cast of characters and still manages to turn them into real people with strong, and sometimes conflicting, personalities. That skill is critical, for as much as we may want to focus on the hardware and the chronology of events, it’s the people, with their visions and their conflicts with one another, who made the opening of the Space Age possible.